What should you do with the first pick in the draft this year? (For analysis of the rest of the first round check here.)
Quite frankly, this is one of those years I am glad I am not picking first in my favorite league. Not only do you have the normal problem of not selecting again until the end of round 2, you are probably stuck selecting between three players that all have significant downsides. Of course the obvious candidates are…
Arian Foster – Foster had a ridiculous breakout season last year. He blew away the second place RB in scoring by 90 points in standard formats and outscored every quarterback in many formats. All of that said, as I previously discussed in more detail, I think he is ripe for a bit of a slide after such a crazy season. He is already fighting with a nagging hamstring issue, which could haunt him. If such a slide brings him back down to earth or just closer to the pack is unfortunately unclear. The sudden emergence of Ben Tate in the preseason could also cut into Foster’s workload, though a bit of a reduction from last year might not be a bad thing. While Tate could normally be seen as a handcuff, he is still technically the third string back behind Derrick Ward. Carrying two handcuffs for one starter is not a good situation. To top it all off, the best blocking fullback in the NFL, Vonta Leach, left town to go drive the bus for Ray Rice. Given all of this, Foster is a bit risky as the number one overall pick.
Adrian Peterson — Peterson has been right at the top of the draft for several years. Unfortunately, he is not quite as much of a slam dunk as he once was. While he had a good year last year, he was outscored by four RB’s in standard leagues (and blown away by a few of them in PPR leagues), partly because of some missed time. Arguably, last season was the worst of his career from a stastical point of view. You also have to wonder about his history of injuries finally catching up with him after several years of heavy work. All of that said, he is still the most dominating running back in the NFL right now. Though he has some miles on him, he is in the prime of his career and very capable of putting together a great season. Moreover, Peterson is in a bit of a better situation from a handcuff perspective, since Toby Gerhart should be his clear backup. We tend to believe that Gerhart has the potential to be a good handcuff option if he can improve a bit from last year.
Chris Johnson — Obviously, his holdout is the biggest issue in the near term. In many recent drafts, he has fallen out of the top three, often passed by Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice. On top of that, both his yardage and yards per carry dropped significantly last year after his huge 2009.
Given these options… Peterson appears to edge out Foster (Johnson would have to end his holdout before I would even start to consider him.) With Peterson, you know what you are probably going to get… if he stays healthy. You also have the option of grabbing Gerhart to add an extra bit of safety. With Foster… you could get last year’s production… or you could get a dropoff. I tend to pick conservatively in early rounds, leading more more towards Peterson at this point.
For More Reading on The Draft See: